Change Outlook's startup folder to match your preference

You don't have to start out in your Inbox every time you launch Outlook; take control and open Outlook to the folder you want.

By default, Outlook selects your Inbox, which is what most of us prefer. However, you can easily change this behavior and force Outlook to open another folder when launching. To set the default startup folder, do the following:

  1. Click the File tab and choose Options (under Help). In Outlook 2007, choose Options from the Tools menu, and click the Other tab.
  2. Choose Advanced from the left pane. In Outlook 2007, click Advanced Options.
  3. In the Outlook Start and Exit section, click Browse, select a folder, and click OK. In Outlook 2007, find the Startup In This Folder section.

Changing this setting will save you a click a two, if you normally go straight to a folder other than the Inbox.

Don't confuse this behavior with the state of expanded and/or collapsed folders. Outlook remembers which folders are collapsed and which are expanded, when you shut down. Outlook then displays the same arrangement the next time you launch it. This doesn't have anything to do with the selected folder upon launching - Outlook does both. It expands and collapses the appropriate folders and selects the Inbox, or the folder you've set at the default.

Similarly, Outlook also remembers the state of your Reading Pane. Outlook groups your mail by time period groups: Today, Yesterday, Last Week, and so on. Outlook also remembers which groups are expanded and which are collapsed when you close. You can quickly control this state from your keyboard, which helps with quick clean up:

  • Press [Ctrl]+ - (on the numeric keypad) to collapse all groups in the Reading Pane.
  • Press [Ctrl]+ + (on the numeric keypad) to expand all groups in the Reading Pane.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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